Binge Writer, Freelance Drinker: How (and Why) I Balance a Social Life as a 23-Year-Old Entrepreneur
I’m an entrepreneur, and I drink like I’m in college.
I run my own business out of my bedroom office (quite well, I may add), and I travel like a nomad.
I’m an independent contractor, yet I have two awesome roommates.
Why am I h̶u̶m̶b̶l̶e̶ bragging about my social life right now? Because I didn’t always have one. From high school through my early 20s, I was constantly working hard … and never playing.
Between test scores, scholarship duties, multiple jobs, and potential graduate school, I was non-stop in high school and college.
Things got even worse when I decided to start my own business, build my client list, and be my own boss. Sure, I sacrificed the status quo by going out on my own at 22-years-old, but I also gave up friendships, fun, and eventually my relationship.
All in the name of business, right?
Nope. I was lonely, isolated, and had only myself to talk to. (Believe me, I’m not always a great conversationalist.)
Over time, my default introversion and anxious tendencies made the situation pretty dire. I was spending too much time alone and only had my business to show for it.
Only when my relationship crumbled (which was a completely separate albeit concurrent issue) did I realize how alone I was — and how much my business was suffering. I had my nose buried so deep in the day-to-day that I hadn’t pulled back to review my big picture. I was so focused on tasks that I neglected strategy and goals.
Why was I running my own business? Why did I work for myself? How did I benefit from a flexible schedule and practically limitless income?
Most freelancers and entrepreneurs answer these questions with family, relationships, health, and travel in mind. While those are all great reasons, mine was a little more selfish — I was doing it for me.
I was freelancing for me, and it was about da*n time I lived like it.
You see, I think I was afraid to run my own business and live at the same time. I was so caught up with the responsibilities of early–20s entrepreneurship that I forgot to give myself permission to actually be 22.
Why? Well, a lot of people in my freelance writing circle are older, married, parents, and/or simply prefer a low-key life. Perhaps I thought living like that was the “right” way to be a business owner, that living like my age was immature or unprofessional.
Or, maybe I was so consumed by my business that it became my life: Working 12+ hours per day and spending weekends taking care of administrative tasks or working ahead.
(Blech. It sounds awful just thinking about it, yet that’s how I operated for over a year.)
The other day, as I was piecing together the bones of this piece, I realized something for the first time (or maybe I was finally bold enough to admit it).
I am more than an entrepreneur. I am more than my business, my source of income, and my career.
This doesn’t mean I don’t love what I do for a living, because I do. And I’m so thankful that this is how I get to spend my days.
But, that’s the key word right there — days. Not nights, weekends, or holidays. Days.
Note: I’m not shirking the necessity or responsibility of hard work. Building a successful business (that can one day lend a more flexible work and life schedule) takes time, energy, blood, sweat, and tears.
Working hard and often is the recipe for success. But, work-life balance is just as important, and that’s what I’d been neglecting for a long while.
I can still be the consummate, creative professional that I’ve always been while maintaining friendships, having adventures, and prioritizing fun.
I’m honestly not sure why I wrote up this post. I don’t write for myself these days, but I felt the need to share where my head was because I don’t think a lot of people give themselves permission to live like entrepreneurs.
The concept of “work hard, play hard” doesn’t just apply to those who work for others. I know it’s tough to give yourself time off when you’re the boss, but it’s so, so important. And how you spend that time off is up to you!
Me? I’m finally living my age. I love traveling, going to concerts, drinking with friends, binge-watching movies on Saturdays, working out, and trying new restaurants.
Does it affect the quality of my work? No. In fact, I think it makes it better. I’m diversifying my experiences, trying new things, and discovering new passions.
How could this not make me a better writer?